TMJ/TMD Treatment in Post Office Square, Boston, MA
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the lower jawbone to the maxilla bone of your skull (your upper jawbone). There is a temporomandibular joint on each side of your jaw. Sometimes, patients develop TMJ disorder or TMD. Your Post Office Square dentist can help you determine the cause of your disorder and find treatments to ease your symptoms.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Your jaw joint functions with the aid of muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your head and neck. Disorders of the jaw joint can contribute to painful symptoms that affect not just the jaw joint but your entire upper body. Symptoms of TMD include:
- Popping or clicking of the jaw upon opening, closing, or chewing
- Chronic headaches/migraines
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain when you chew
- Facial pain
- Difficulty closing or opening your mouth
- Poor jaw range of motion
- Referred tooth pain
- Stiff, sore neck and shoulder muscles
What Causes TMD?
The exact cause of TMJ disorder depends on each patient. There can be one cause or multiple contributing factors.
TMD can develop if you have had an injury to your jaw, such as getting hit in the face while playing sports, falling off a bike, or getting into a car accident.
Another common cause of this disorder is teeth/bite misalignment. Due to the patient's anatomy, there might not be enough room for all the teeth to come in correctly, which can lead to crooked and crowded teeth.
Anatomical issues are comprised of but not limited to the following:
In these cases, the teeth do not fit together properly. Not only does this lead to uneven distribution of bite pressure and teeth issues, but it can also strain the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the head and neck. The result is pain, stiffness, and other TMD symptoms.
How Is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?
To start, your Post Office Square dentist will review your symptoms. Then, your dentist will examine your jaw by:
- Placing their hands on both sides of your face and feeling your jaw when you open and close your mouth
- Listening to your jaw when you open and close your mouth
- Observing your jaw's range of motion
- Gently palpating around your jaw joints to locate areas of discomfort
If your dentist suspects TMJ disorder, they will recommend diagnostic testing, which may consist of:
- X-rays of the teeth and jaw
- A CT scan for detailed images of the muscles of your head and jaw
- An MRI to evaluate the soft tissues surrounding your jaw joint, as well as the disc that cushions the TMJ
- TMJ arthroscopy, a procedure in which a thin tube is inserted into the joint, and a camera is then inserted to evaluate the area
Treatment Options for TMD in Post Office Square
For some patients, TMJ symptoms will go away without any treatment. Some may have to make some lifestyle changes for this to occur, such as:
- Stress management
- Not chewing gum
- Avoiding chewy or hard foods (carrots, crusty bread, chewy candy)
- Practicing proper posture
In other cases, pain does not subside even after making these changes. When this happens, your Post Office Square dentist will recommend other options.
Common medications include pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories. Your dentist will likely recommend this type of treatment in conjunction with other therapies to prevent medication dependence.
A nightguard can protect your teeth and jaw if you clench and grind your teeth. Nightguards are most commonly worn at night since bruxism is difficult to control when you are fast asleep.
Physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, and massage therapy can help relax the muscles, improve range of motion, and reduce pain. Counseling is also effective for understanding factors, behaviors, or emotions that aggravate your pain. The more aware you are of your triggers, the better able you will be to avoid or reduce them, thereby reducing the chance that you will engage in harmful habits such as:
- Poor posture/leaning on your chin
- Clenching and grinding your teeth
- Clenching your shoulders, neck, and facial muscles
Some surgical procedures – such as jaw or open-joint surgery – can correct structural problems. Other less invasive options include:
- Injections: Corticosteroids or Botox.
- Arthrocentesis: Injecting fluid to irrigate the joint to remove inflammatory byproducts and other debris.
- TMJ arthroscopy: A minimally invasive procedure that treats the jaw joint with fewer complications than open-joint surgery.
We Will Help You Choose the Best Treatment Option
We do not want to see you in pain. Our team wants to help you find relief fast. We will discuss all your options and help you find the one that is best for your lifestyle and needs.
Do you suffer from facial pain or chronic headaches? You might have TMD. Contact our office at (857) 578-2200 to schedule an evaluation.